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Hanna: Headed our way?

While all eyes are on Hurricane Gustav and the impending clean-up along the Gulf Coast from that massive storm, northeastern North Carolina citizens need to keep track of another tropical system.

On Monday afternoon, what was Tropical Storm Hanna gained enough strength to intensify into a minimal hurricane (winds at least 75 mph). While the outflow winds from Gustav have wrecked havoc on Hanna, that system is expected to intensify further this week and may take a path towards the coastline of the Carolinas.

As of 5 p.m. on Monday, the National Weather Service (NWS) said Hurricane Hanna was in the southeastern Bahamas and was expected to take a gradual turn towards the west, northwest on Tuesday. Maximum sustained winds had increased to near 80 mph late Monday afternoon.

Hurricane force winds extend 70 miles from the center of circulation. Tropical storm force winds extend outward 160 miles.

Despite strong northerly shear, NWS officials say that Hanna may continue to intensify. Tracking the actual path of this storm appears to be difficult. NWS officials say until Hanna takes a more definitive motion, the landfall threat ranges from south Florida northward through the Carolinas.

As of Monday afternoon, the outer fringes of the storm’s possible path included coastal and northeastern North Carolina. Based on the storm’s current forward speed, it may be Friday or Saturday before Hanna affects North Carolina. However, that timetable may change depending on the storm’s forward speed.

Roanoke-Chowan area residents are urged to keep a close eye on Hurricane Hanna. It’s not too early to begin preparations just in case the storm turns our way. Early preparations include whether to decide to evacuate or stay in your home during the storm. It is recommended that all citizens develop a family disaster plan.

All openings of your home need to have protection to keep fierce winds and rain out of the building. Experience proves that a home that does not have protected openings is at grave risk for serious damage.

Trees need to be trimmed to minimize the damage they may cause to your home or someone else’s. Vehicles left out in the open are often overturned by high winds. If you do not have a garage or carport, locate a protected spot to park your vehicles. A good location might be on the leeward side of the house, away from the main force of the wind.

Identify loose items located outside, such as lawn furniture, grills, toys, yard equipment, etc., that should be brought inside before a storm. When picked up by high winds, these items can become deadly missiles.

Examine your home to see if hurricane straps and connectors were installed to roof trusses, rafters and framing members. Homes that do not have such protective reinforcement are at risk of loosing roofs and walls to strong hurricane force winds.

Have enough supplies (water, non-perishable food, fresh batteries, clothing, prescription medication, first-aid kit, battery-powered radio, etc.) on hand to last three days. It’s also wise to safely store all important papers (insurance, wills, etc.).

More planning tips can be found at www.readync.org.